The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 36v - De pica; the magpie.


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Commentary, Translation and Transcription

These sections are located below the image on each page, scroll down page and click on the tabs to view them. It is also possible to view the translation alongside the image by clicking the translation icon in the toolbar

It is not part of the project to provide a definitive edition of the text of the Bestiary, but to help readers by providing a transcription and translation of the text. Currently the following editorial conventions obtain:

Text

  1. The original capitalisation is retained, but capitals have been added for personal and place names, excluding deus and diabolus.
  2. The original punctuation, including a point and inverted semi-colon (both serving as commas), and a point (serving as a full stop), is represented by comma, full stop and question-mark; a colon has been inserted before quotations.
  3. Suggested readings are in [ ].
  4. Variants from other Bestiary texts (eg Ashmole 1511 and Patrologia Latina 176) are added where they indicate a corruption, elucidate a meaning and replace excised text. They are represented as [A: PL:]

Translation

  1. Direct quotations from the Bible, where identified, are cited from the Authorised Version in ( ).
  2. Paraphrased quotations are identified where possible and indicated as: (see Job, 18:22).
  3. Suggested translations of corrupt words are in [ ].
  4. Capitalisation is sparing; additional punctuation has been used where necessary to give the sense. Paragraphs have been created to break up the text.
Of the magpie Magpies are like poets, because they utter words, with a distinct sound, like men; hanging in the branches of trees, they chatter rudely, and even if they cannot get their tongues round words, they nevertheless imitate human speech. On this subject someone aptly said: 'The chattering magpie, firm of voice, greets you as lord. If you do not see me, you will deny that I am a bird' (Martial, Epigrams, 14: 76). The woodpecker, picus, gets its name from Picus son of Saturn, because he used it for taking auguries. For they say that this bird has something

Text

The magpie. Magpies chatter, sounding like humans. The woodpecker.

Illustration

Four young hoopoe, rhythmically placed in a roundel, clean the eyes and pluck the feathers of their ageing parent.

Comment

The illustration is pricked for pouncing. The splendid initial 'P' is type 3, introducing pica. This page is particularly dirty on the lower left margin, indicating frequent use. A possible sketch in the margin. Initial indicator 'P' at bottom left of illustration.

Folio Attributes

  • Pricking

    Pricking

    Pricking
    Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

    Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

  • Initial Indicators

    Initial Indicators

    Initial Indicators
    Initial indicator 'v'. Detail from f.16r

    When the scribe was writing he would leave a gap on the page where an initial was supposed to be inserted. To make sure that the illuminated letter was correct, the scribe would write a very small initial in the margin. They are written on the outside edge of the sheet. Over 30 of these small letters survive. Up to quire C they are marked with the same black ink as the text. After that both black and red ink are used.

  • Initial Type 3

    Initial Type 3

    Initial Type 3
    Type 3 initial. Detail from f.77v

    Type 3 is the most luxurious: a gold letter is framed by a blue or brown patterned square (f.3r, f.5v); or the other way around with a painted letter and gilded frame (f.36v, f.77v). On f.36v there are tiny red circles found on the clothing of God and Adam in quire A. Therefore the initials of type 3 are also by the main illuminator. Type 3 may occupy only two lines as in quire A or up to eight lines on f.77v. It is generally, but not always, used to signal a particularly significant section. So, it is used in the Creation sequence, and the start of the Bestiary proper. On f.25v it is used to highlight the start of a section on birds derived from the Aviarium by Hugo of Fouilloy, as distinct from the general bird section deriving from the ‘standard’ bestiary on f.25r. In the latter part of the book where there are fewer illustrations it is used to introduce the next category (f.72r passim): worms and insects, fish, trees, Isidore on the nature of man, Isidore on human body parts, and the condition of man. Three individual topics are given particular emphasis with the type 3 initial: the hoopoe (f.36r) famous for its filial piety; the magpie, likened to a poet (f.36v) and the perindens tree which can be understood as God (f.64v).

  • Sketches

    Sketches

    Sketches
    Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

    Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

Transcription

De pica\ Pice quasi poetice, quod verba in discrimi\ne vocis exprimant ut homo, per ramos enim\ arborum pendule importuna garruli\tate sonantes, et si nequeunt linguas in\ sermone explicare, sonum tamen humane\ vocis imitantur, de qua congrue quidam ait: Pica loquax\ certa dominum te voce salutat. Si me non videas esse ne\gabis avem. Picus a Pico Saturni filio nomen sumpsit, eo quod\ in auspiciis utebatur. Nam ferunt hanc avem quiddam habere\

Translation

Of the magpie Magpies are like poets, because they utter words, with a distinct sound, like men; hanging in the branches of trees, they chatter rudely, and even if they cannot get their tongues round words, they nevertheless imitate human speech. On this subject someone aptly said: 'The chattering magpie, firm of voice, greets you as lord. If you do not see me, you will deny that I am a bird' (Martial, Epigrams, 14: 76). The woodpecker, picus, gets its name from Picus son of Saturn, because he used it for taking auguries. For they say that this bird has something
  • Commentary

    Text

    The magpie. Magpies chatter, sounding like humans. The woodpecker.

    Illustration

    Four young hoopoe, rhythmically placed in a roundel, clean the eyes and pluck the feathers of their ageing parent.

    Comment

    The illustration is pricked for pouncing. The splendid initial 'P' is type 3, introducing pica. This page is particularly dirty on the lower left margin, indicating frequent use. A possible sketch in the margin. Initial indicator 'P' at bottom left of illustration.

    Folio Attributes

    • Pricking

      Pricking

      Pricking
      Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

      Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

    • Initial Indicators

      Initial Indicators

      Initial Indicators
      Initial indicator 'v'. Detail from f.16r

      When the scribe was writing he would leave a gap on the page where an initial was supposed to be inserted. To make sure that the illuminated letter was correct, the scribe would write a very small initial in the margin. They are written on the outside edge of the sheet. Over 30 of these small letters survive. Up to quire C they are marked with the same black ink as the text. After that both black and red ink are used.

    • Initial Type 3

      Initial Type 3

      Initial Type 3
      Type 3 initial. Detail from f.77v

      Type 3 is the most luxurious: a gold letter is framed by a blue or brown patterned square (f.3r, f.5v); or the other way around with a painted letter and gilded frame (f.36v, f.77v). On f.36v there are tiny red circles found on the clothing of God and Adam in quire A. Therefore the initials of type 3 are also by the main illuminator. Type 3 may occupy only two lines as in quire A or up to eight lines on f.77v. It is generally, but not always, used to signal a particularly significant section. So, it is used in the Creation sequence, and the start of the Bestiary proper. On f.25v it is used to highlight the start of a section on birds derived from the Aviarium by Hugo of Fouilloy, as distinct from the general bird section deriving from the ‘standard’ bestiary on f.25r. In the latter part of the book where there are fewer illustrations it is used to introduce the next category (f.72r passim): worms and insects, fish, trees, Isidore on the nature of man, Isidore on human body parts, and the condition of man. Three individual topics are given particular emphasis with the type 3 initial: the hoopoe (f.36r) famous for its filial piety; the magpie, likened to a poet (f.36v) and the perindens tree which can be understood as God (f.64v).

    • Sketches

      Sketches

      Sketches
      Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

      Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

  • Translation
    Of the magpie Magpies are like poets, because they utter words, with a distinct sound, like men; hanging in the branches of trees, they chatter rudely, and even if they cannot get their tongues round words, they nevertheless imitate human speech. On this subject someone aptly said: 'The chattering magpie, firm of voice, greets you as lord. If you do not see me, you will deny that I am a bird' (Martial, Epigrams, 14: 76). The woodpecker, picus, gets its name from Picus son of Saturn, because he used it for taking auguries. For they say that this bird has something
  • Transcription
    De pica\ Pice quasi poetice, quod verba in discrimi\ne vocis exprimant ut homo, per ramos enim\ arborum pendule importuna garruli\tate sonantes, et si nequeunt linguas in\ sermone explicare, sonum tamen humane\ vocis imitantur, de qua congrue quidam ait: Pica loquax\ certa dominum te voce salutat. Si me non videas esse ne\gabis avem. Picus a Pico Saturni filio nomen sumpsit, eo quod\ in auspiciis utebatur. Nam ferunt hanc avem quiddam habere\
Folio 36v - De pica; the magpie. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen